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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has applied for a visa to visit the United States next week, the US says.
The application is apparently motivated by his wish to be at the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference next Monday.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be among more than 30 foreign ministers attending the opening day of discussions in New York. The US says Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, but Tehran denies this.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said: "My understanding is that as of today he (Mr Ahmadinejad) has filed an application for a visa."
Tehran says its nuclear energy programme is for peaceful, civilian purposes.
But the US and five other powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany - are discussing proposed new UN sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a key step on the road to creating nuclear weapons.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed that the applications for Ahmadinejad and his delegation had been submitted in Berne, Switzerland, and he indicated they were likely to be approved.
"We have certain responsibilities as the host of the U.N.," Crowley said. "Any foreign official who is coming to the U.N. for official business is normally granted a visa."
The United States and other Western powers accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons in violation of its commitment under the Non-Proliferation Treaty not to do so. Iran has said its nuclear program is solely to generate electricity.
Iran and the United States have no diplomatic relations.